New Digital Travel Company Launches

March  26, 2017.

The new consumer travel company and online booking platform debuts with thousands of tours and activities in 97 countries launched this past Thursday,  offering an interactive digital platform that travelers can use to book thousands of day tours and activities in hundreds of destinations worldwide.  The enterprise is a wholly owned subsidiary of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL), but is independent of the RCCL-owned cruise lines.

With an activity searchable by nearly any traveler’s interest, the website offers easy-to-use search features that allow travelers to search by Destination, Interest or Group requirements.

The site has three primary categories of activities: high-value group tours, private excursions, and exclusive, completely tailor-made “Travel Creations”.  Additionally, the easy-to-navigate portal searches cruise schedule itineraries, pricing, and availability for a wide variety of experiential activities, from architecture walking tours and culinary adventures to wildlife exploration and bucket-list experiences.

Pricing can vary from under $100 to a few hundred dollars per person, all the way up to exclusive excursions costing thousands of dollars.  The following links are examples:

  • Rome by Private Helicopter with Five-Star Lunch: This scenic flight provides views of the Vatican and dozens of Roman landmarks and outlying hill towns, while a private car and guide visits the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and Condotti’s fabled Italian boutiques.
  • Tour of Cayman’s Sparkling Crystal Caves: A guided tour of Grand Cayman’s ancient geological landmark reveals the Crystal Caves’ glistening stalactite and stalagmite crystal structures and rarely seen flora and fauna of this unique tropical forest.
  • Brazilian Surfing Class at Geriba Beach: Using specially designed boards, expert instructors teach surfing theory and practice on one of the best surfing meccas in Brazil, a haven for all water sports and the occasional celebrity sighting.

GoBe aims to triple its quantity of activities around the world by the close of 2017. As of today they feature  tours in 896 cities and 97 countries.

Holland America Offers ‘Ready Set Sail’ Promotion

March 24, 2017. 

Holland America Line is offering its popular Ready Set Sail promotion again, featuring pre-paid gratuities and up to $500 onboard spending money per stateroom. Guests who book a Holland America Line cruise by June 1, 2017, will be eligible to receive the offer, and guests who book a suite also will receive an additional $100 internet credit.

All cruises between June 1, 2017, and March 30, 2018, excluding Grand Voyages and Grand Voyage segments, are eligible for the Ready Set Sail promotion. Depending on stateroom category, guests will receive onboard spending money ranging from $100 up to $500 per stateroom. 

Onboard Spending Money  

In addition to pre-paid gratuities for the entire cruise valued at up to $27 per stateroom per day, guests receive onboard credit that can be used to enjoy a variety of shipboard experiences and amenities. Examples of things you can pay for using the onboard credit include Greenhouse Spa and Salon, gift shop purchases, Journeys Ashore tours, beverages or dinner at one of the specialty restaurants such as Pinnacle Grill, Sel de Mer, Canaletto or Tamarind, depending on the ship.

For more information about Holland America Line, consult a travel professional, call 1-877-SAIL HAL (877-724-5425) or visit


Carnival Elation Scores 2nd Consecutive Perfect Score On Health Inspection

March 22, 2017.

Carnival Elation scored 100 during its recent United States Public Health (U.S.P.H.) inspection which took place in Jacksonville, Florida. This marks the second consecutive time the ship has achieved a perfect U.S.P.H inspection score.

To earn a 100 score, cruise ships must receive perfect marks on all 44 items that comprise the U.S.P.H.’s comprehensive Vessel Sanitation Program checklist. The unannounced inspections, which are conducted twice a year and required for any cruise ship with an international itinerary calling at a U.S. port, evaluate vessels in a wide variety of areas, including adherence to proper food handling, preparation and storage procedures, and overall galley cleanliness. Ships’ potable water supplies used in spas and pools are evaluated, as well.

The 2,052-passenger Carnival Elation operates year round 4 and 5 night cruises from Jacksonville, carrying 170,000 guests a year from JAXPORT.

MSC Cruises Introduces New Dining Options

March 22, 2017.

MSC Cruises is bringing it’s version of the popular ‘my time’ dining featured by other mainstream cruise lines to the fleet, beginning on the highly anticipated MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside.  The two ships will introduce the new flexible dining option and a specialty restaurants that can be booked at any time prior to embarkation and while on board.  (Note that there are restrictions on which main dining options can be selected, based on which cruise experience level you booked.) 

Flexi Dining  

This is what MSC Cruises calls their ‘my time’ dining and allows guests to pre-select a time slot for their evening meal, with the ability to change it at any time during their cruise.  


This is the assigned seating option with a choice of two seatings each evening. This traditional dining style is popular with guests who prefer a dedicated table each night so that they can enjoy personalized service from the same waiter who will know their names, dining preferences and how to accommodate them.  

In addition, MSC Yacht Club guests will continue to benefit from free-time dining (you simply show up when you want) in the dedicated MSC Yacht Club restaurant, with the option of reserving a table in advance.

Casual Dining

Casual dining venues are available for all guests 20 hours a day, offering a wide range of freshly prepared dishes. The buffet has been further enhanced with a wide range of different international dishes suited to any taste. MSC Seaside will feature two casual dining venues, one of which will be dedicated to families, serving family-friendly options and featuring child-friendly seatings.  MSC Cruises makes their own pastas aboard ship and have what I consider the best pizzas at sea.

International Specialty Restaurants 

MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside will feature restaurants with ‘open kitchens,’ following the trend in restaurant design and creating a sensory experience that allows guests to see, smell and hear expert chefs at work. Selected restaurants on these ships will also feature a Chef’s Table for a five-star dining experience.  So, more than just one Chef’s Table.  Very nice.

Both the Meraviglia and the Seaside will be Butcher’s Cut, an authentic American Steakhouse blended with the skillful mastery of the butcher. Guests can select their favorite steak from glass-fronted meat aging fridges and then watch the skilled chefs preparing their selections in the open kitchen. The bar will feature wines and cocktails with an American theme and an assortment of craft beers. 

MSC Meraviglia will feature The Kaito Teppanyaki restaurant which will complement the ship’s Kaito Sushi Bar.

MSC Seaside will have the Asian Market Kitchen by Roy Yamaguchi. This venue will have three distinct eateries: an à la carte restaurant serving gourmet Asian creations; a Sushi Bar; and an area with Teppanyaki Grills.

The Seaside will also feature the signature seafood restaurant, Ocean Cay. This restaurant will serve American-style fish dishes with a Mediterranean twist. A simple menu will include locally-sourced Stone Crabs, a delicacy in the homeport of Miami, beautiful fresh Sea Bass, flown in from the Mediterranean, and homemade spaghetti alle vongole (with clams).

MSC Meraviglia Dining Packages

The Meraviglia will have dining packages that can be booked prior to the cruise. For example:

· ‘Dinner & Show’ where they will enjoy an exclusive table d’hôte menu and then experience the Cirque du Soleil at Sea performance in the purpose-built Carousel Lounge.

· ‘Eataly Chef’s Table’ which includes a dedicated chef and sommelier for the night, seven gourmet dishes, with each course paired with seven wines.

Royal Caribbean’s Implementation Dates For New Room Service Menu and Fee

March 21, 2017.

As we’ve reported twice recently, Royal Caribbean is rolling out a new enhanced room service menu that adds a $7.95 service charge for most orders.  You can read more about it here, and see the new menus here.

Serenade Of The Seas will be the first ship to get the new room service on March 27, and the plan is to have the whole fleet* transitioned by May 26.

*Quantum Of The Seas is not included in this new room service plan.

The ship-by-ship rollout is as follows:

Norwegian Cruise Line Raises Service Charges

March 18, 2017.


Over the past two days, word spread across social media about Norwegian Cruise Line raising their onboard service charges, as booked guests started receiving e-mails from their agents alerting them to this.  Yesterday the cruise line made an official announcement and updated their website service charge page.

The New Charges

For those in standard cabins up to mini-suites, the fee is going from $13.50 to $13.99 per person/per day.  If you are in a suite  the charge will increase from $15.50 to $16.99 per person/per day.  The new rates take effect April 1, but if you book by March 31 and pre-pay the service charge you get the old rate.

But Wait, There’s More!

You see, the prices listed above do not include the Norwegian Sky.  The Sky provides all-inclusive bar sales in the basic cruise fare, so this ship will have higher service charges.  Norwegian said the reason for this is “to better address the demands of the enormously successful all-inclusive product aboard Norwegian Sky.” Well, if they say so.  

The new fee for the Sky will be $18.99 per person per day for standard cabins up to mini-suites and $21.99 per person per day for the full suites.

To summarize, if you cruise on the Norwegian Sky you pay $5 per person more each day than on the company’s other ships.

Also, the state of Hawaii needs to get their cut too, so for sailings on Pride Of America your service charges have an additional 4.275% tacked on for the “General Excise Tax” which is a state law.  This tax is not a new thing.

In addition to the cruise service charge, the bar and spa staff, and the specialty dining venues, also add 18% to the bill each time you use their services.


Royal Caribbean Sets 2018-19 Caribbean, Alaska & Northeast Itineraries


March 16, 2017 – Royal Caribbean has unveiled an extensive list of North American itineraries in 2018-19. (There is a lot to read here)

Alaska itineraries are available to book starting today, March 16, 2017, while year-round Caribbean & Bahamas sailings will begin opening on March 17 and continue to open on a rolling basis, shortly followed by seasonal Caribbean and Northeast itineraries beginning on March 30.  All itineraries are available to book one day in advance for Crown & Anchor Society loyalty members. 

Symphony of the Seas 

Available to book now

After spending the summer in the Mediterranean, Symphony will homeport at Royal Caribbean’s brand new Terminal A at PortMiami. Beginning November 17, 2018, she will sail seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries, adding Basseterre, St. Kitts & Nevis to other Oasis-Class ports of call.   

Alaskan Expeditions

Available to book now

Explorer of the Seas will sail seven-night itineraries departing from Seattle, Washington with ports of call in Victoria, British Columbia, Juneau, Alaska and the Inside Passage.

  • Radiance of the Seas will sail seven- and nine-night open-jaw itineraries between Seward, Alaska and Vancouver, British Columbia.

South Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico Offer Year-Round Caribbean Adventures

Select Ships available to book starting March 17, 2017

  • Allure of the Seas will reposition from Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale to PortMiami for the winter season, where she will continue to offer seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries.
  • Harmony of the Seas will continue to sail year-round seven-night Caribbean itineraries from Port Everglades Cruise Port in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, switching from Saturday to Sunday departures for the winter.
  • Oasis of the Seas will continue year-round seven-night itineraries from Port Canaveral, east of Orlando, Florida to the Caribbean, while Majesty of the Seas will offer three- and four-night getaways to The Bahamas.
  • Liberty of the Seas will continue her year-round deployment from the Port of Galveston in Texas, offering seven-night Mexico and Western Caribbean itineraries.
  • Enchantment of the Seas will sail three- and four-night getaways to The Bahamas, year-round from PortMiami.  

Northeast U.S. and Seasonal Caribbean Escapes

Available to book March 30, 2017

  • Anthem of the Seas will continue year-round itineraries from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, New Jersey sailing five to twelve-night itineraries to Bermuda and the Caribbean and seven-night itineraries to The Bahamas. For the fall season, Anthem of the Seas will offer nine-night itineraries to Canada and New England.
  • Adventure of the Seas will call the Northeast “home” for the first time since her debut, sailing a variety of seven-night itineraries from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, New Jersey to The Bahamas and New England & Canada throughout the summer season. In the fall 2018, the ship will feature three open-jaw 10- and 11-night Fall Foliage sailings to Quebec, Canada. Adventure of the Seas will reposition to Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale for the winter season, offering six- and eight-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries.
  • Grandeur of the Seas will continue to offer a variety of destinations and experiences for guests sailing from Baltimore, including nine-night itineraries to The Bahamas and 12-night itineraries to the Southern Caribbean in the winter; and nine-night journeys to Canada and New England and five-night getaways to Bermuda in the summer.
  • Vision of the Seas will join Liberty of the Seas in Galveston, Texas for the winter season offering shorter four- and five-night Western Caribbean getaways.
  • Rhapsody of the Seas will sail round-trip seven-night Western Caribbean itineraries out of Tampa, Florida during the winter season.
  • Jewel of the Seas will make San Juan, Puerto Rico her homeport for the winter season, sailing seven-night Southern Caribbean itineraries.
  • Brilliance of the Seas will sail from Tampa in the winter, alternating four- and five-night itineraries to the Western Caribbean.
  • Serenade of the Seas will homeport in Boston for September and October, offering seven-night itineraries to Canada and New England and seven-night itineraries to Bermuda. She will then reposition to Ft. Lauderdale for longer winter sailings to the Southern and Eastern Caribbean on 10- and 11-night itineraries.
  • Navigator of the Seas will sail five- and nine-night Southern and Western Caribbean itineraries from PortMiami throughout the winter season.
  • Independence of the Seas will make her way to Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida offering four- and five-night itineraries to the Western Caribbean throughout the winter.

Caribbean Princess Getting Multi-Million Dollar Renovation

Caribbean Princess Bar Harbor, Maine

March 16, 2017 – Caribbean Princess will undergo an extensive two-week drydock in Freeport, Bahamas, March 26-April 6.  She will emerge with new features including Camp Discovery Youth & Teen Center, upgraded Movies Under the Stars, Princess Luxury Bed and interconnecting staterooms.  The cruise ship will also be wired for the Ocean Medallion launch that will be available for the 2018 summer Caribbean season.

New Caribbean Princess family-friendly features include:

Camp Discovery

For cruisers ages 3-17, Caribbean Princess will now offer a reimagined youth center – Camp Discovery – created in partnership with Discovery Consumer Products, the licensing arm of Discovery Communications, as part of the cruise line’s Discovery at Sea program. Catering to specific age groups, there are three themes where kids and teens can make new friends and participate in activities specially designed to help them Discover, Play, Create and Huddle, including:

  • The Treehouse, ages 3-7 (formerly Pelicans): A bright, whimsical forest and animal-themed center including captivating creatures and hands-on activities for kids to focus on play time, creativity and the world around them.
  • The Lodge, ages 8-12 (formerly Shockwaves): Inspired by the great outdoors, this cozy center is filled with sports activities and fun places for kids to explore, hang out and lounge.
  • The Beach House, for ages 13-17 (formerly Remix) offers a contemporary surf-themed lounge, featuring a cool place for teens to hang out and socialize.

New youth and teen center programming includes MythBusters science activities with new hands-on challenges, featuring show star, Tory Belleci. In addition, new Camp Discovery destination-themed programs focusing on Europe and the Caribbean will be offered.

Interconnecting Staterooms & Upgraded Accommodations

Caribbean Princess debuts 87 interconnecting staterooms, offering more room and comfort for all family members to enjoy.

A new HD Movies Under the Stars outdoor movie screen will offer a higher resolution picture with double the image quality of previous systems.

Caribbean Princess will receive 3,200 new Princess Luxury Beds and linens. Developed in collaboration with board-certified sleep expert, Dr. Michael Breus and HGTV designer Candice Olson, the bed combines the science of sleep with the pinnacle of design.

In addition, Caribbean Princess offers Club Class Mini-Suites, the new premium stateroom category featuring VIP amenities and exclusive dining. This elevated mini-suite category features select perks including new Club Class Dining, a reserved dining area with expedited seating and expanded menu options as well as priority embarkation and disembarkation.

Europe 2017 and 2017 – 2018 Caribbean

The newly renovated Caribbean Princess will start her Europe season with a Transatlantic sailing on April 6th, continuing throughout the summer in the British Isles with sailings featuring ports in Scotland, Ireland, and Iceland.

She will then visit the Panama Canal in October, transiting the new Agua Clara locks, and spending the holiday season in the Caribbean.

Additionally, for the first time in four years, Princess Cruises offers Summer Caribbean cruises, including Panama Canal transits in 2018. The Caribbean Princess returns to sail on a full summer season of voyages ranging from seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean to a 20-day Caribbean and Panama Canal Explorer.

The 2018 April to October summer program features 47 departures, roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale, including eight unique itineraries visiting 23 destinations in 22 countries. In addition, four ports offer late night stays so guests have more time to explore the evening offerings these destinations have to offer.


Royal Caribbean To Charge For Most Room Service Orders

March 15, 2017 – Social media is ablaze today with reports that Royal Caribbean plans to roll out a fleetwide service charge for essentially all room service orders.  The fee will be $7.95 per order from the “All Day Menu” as well as the American breakfast (hot food) menu.  Continental breakfast items will remain complimentary.  Those in suites (grand suites or higher) will continue to receive all room service for free.

“Per order” means trip being performed by room service.  For example if one person orders the “Classic Philly” cheesesteak sandwich and another person in the cabin orders a “Royal Burger”, the cost is $7.95 for the entire order.  However if a cabin orders hot breakfast items at 8am and then sandwiches later in the day, they pay $7.95 two times.

On their Facebook page Royal Caribbean says “The convenience fee has been introduced to better manage the high demand of this convenient service.”

The fee begins on March 27, 2017 across the fleet.  The previous $3.95 fee for late night orders will end.